The sad part of January is seeing those discarded Christmas trees here and there on the street, lying on their sides with a few strands of tinsel hanging from them like the remnants of a sad pine comb-over.
It's better in January to think ahead than to muse over a vanished holiday and its faded decorations, and so I myself like to read predictions for the year to come. Predictions don't usually come true, of course, except those involving the IRS or a funeral home, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying them.
Here are a few of mine.
E-books will continue to make inroads. There will probably be stories in traditional media outlets like the New York Times about how e-book sales have leveled (the Times publishing beat concentrates on legacy publishers rather than the more vibrant self-publishing field), but neither the tablet nor the e-reader will be going away this year, so e-books will continue to be read and discovered.
Self-publishing will continue to grow. At the end of the year, Amazon announced that 150 Kindle Direct Publishing authors each sold more than 100,000 copies of their books last year. As the author J.A. Konrath noted in his excellent blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, "That's 15,000,000 e-books sold outside of legacy publishing, and those are just the top 150 sellers. It isn't a stretch to believe tens of millions of self-published e-books are being sold annually."
Authors will move beyond relying on a dedicated Facebook page to promote themselves. I think that people will once again start gravitating toward an author's own website -- in addition to a social-media page -- because that dedicated site can offer a closer look at the author. I'd heard from publisher friends that they'd long been recommending that their authors utilize Facebook rather than invest in a website of their own. But I think authors are beginning to resist that; they want something that sets them apart, while also linking to a community site such as Facebook.
Awards will continue to proliferate and the results will be forgotten even more quickly than before. Awards may give writers and actors and publishers and moviemakers and musicians bragging rights, but beyond that they've probably lost their cachet in helping drive sales. Can you remember last year's winners of the Pulitzer Prizes or the National Book Awards? I bet you'll forget who won the Oscars for best actor, actress or picture almost as soon as those names are announced. If so many people win so many awards, what does it matter?
There will be fights over net-neutrality. In light of the recent ruling concerning Internet access and speed, startups, tech companies and anyone interested in the open dispersal of information will battle the cable-company powers and lobbyists to ensure that access to Internet services isn't compromised.
High-quality television shows such as "Game of Thrones" will drive water-cooler conversations at the expense of movies and books. We are in a cycle when great television trumps other media. But that won't always be the case. Nothing remains the same.